Debut album “N1FG” by Sydney Hard rockers Hellz Abyss hasn’t been an easy album to review. This collection is a mixed bag of surprises in many good ways and some not as good, but a very entertaining listening experience for sure. On the surface, this is a very straightforward rock album, a bunch of single-length songs with elements that can go from classic hard rock to electro-industrial, to nu-metal. But once you dig deeper, and pay closer attention to the lyrics, you will find a much darker side to it. “N1FG” is the product of the collaboration between vocalist Lisa Perry and guitarist/producer Daryl Holden, and once you understand the sad reasons behind most of the lyrics in this album, you’ll need to have a second, or third listen, to really grasp the whole concept of it all (all the info is in their website, if you’re curious).
Singer Lisa Perry is the real star of this album, and she shows it right away. She is a beast of a vocalist, with a range that most wish they had and brilliant voice control. I can only imagine what she would sound on a live setting. Perry takes you on a wild ride from slow and haunting melodies to banshee-like screams to in-your-face hard rockers. And this one of the strongest aspects of “N1FG” in my opinion: the sheer variety of songs and styles you’ll find here is very much appreciated.
The album opens with “Deadones”, a slow hard rocker that is not very representative of the album quality. This one is not among my favourite tracks, but thankfully once “Ratatat” kicks on, the real ride begins. This song is an industrial rocker with a mischievous feel to it, and a pretty infectious chorus. “Kill the Real Girls” comes next, a very good track with electro-influenced arrangements that fit perfectly into the mood of the album. The short one “Faith” comes next, and this is one of my favourites. With early-Garbage vibes and a nice contrast between male and female vocals, I wish this track was longer. “Waste of Time” is next, and I must say this is not a very memorable song, it is a decent hard-rocker but nothing amazing either. My favourite track comes next: “Liar”, with Static-X vibes, great atmospheres and a super earworm chorus. “Rope Bunny” is a decent hard-rocker but not the best track in the record. “Salute” is a perfectly catchy radio-friendly song with alt-rock vibes and a fantastic guitar solo. “Trust” comes next, one of the best songs here, with its dark and brooding atmospheres it builds tension very effectively. “Paperback lover” is a chaotic and psychedelic experiment of a track. I appreciate the risks it takes, but it didn’t catch my attention as much as other songs. The album closes with “Vicious”, “Shoot to kill” and “Soul eater”, three badass songs with hints of fuzz-rock and 80s sleaze rock.
Not all is great with “N1FG” though. While I appreciate the variety of sounds they manage to include in a single album, I feel that sometimes this album relies a bit too much on studio trickery and post-production effects, like the famous “megaphone vocals” filter, which feels a bit overused at times. Variety can also bring hits and misses, and while most guitar tones used here are really cool, some others feel a bit thin when competing with the rhythmic base in some tracks. I’m still not sure if they used a live drummer to record the drum parts, but one of my issues with the sound in “N1FG” is that often the drums sound drum machine-like. These are mostly very good songs, and they would shine even more with real drums in my opinion. This actually makes me even more curious and keen to catch the band live sometime, as Lisa definitely sounds like the kind of frontwoman that could turn any venue upside down and deliver a stellar performance. “N1FG” is a dynamic album that oozes rebellious spirit and demands to be heard as loud as possible.
Album highlights: Ratatat, Salute, Faith, Liar, Trust
For fans of Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, In This Moment, Garbage, Hole
Hellz Abyss: Facebook
Release Year: 2021
Reviewed by Roman Ibarra